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MedTerms
Word of the Day

Chapped lips: Dry, cracked or sore lips, usually in cold, windy, dry weather and less often in warm weather. Sun exposure can contribute to chapping of the lips. Licking or biting the lips is often a contributing factor.

The lips are more sensitive to chapping than the skin. Unlike the skin, the lips do not produce oils to protect them against drying.

To treat chapped lips, use a good lip emollient, ideally one containing a sunscreen. If you don't have a lip emollient use lipstick. And, if you don't have a lip emollient or lipstick around, rub your finger over the side of your nose and then wipe the oil on your lips. In winter and at elevated altitudes, drink lots of fluid.

Some steps to prevent chapped lips are to:

  • Do not lick or bite the lips.
  • Use a lip emollient or lipstick on the lips before going outside. Reapply it several times while outside.
  • Use a lip emollient that has a sunscreen in it when going outside during the day.
  • Avoid a flavored lip balm. The flavor can tempt the user (children included) to lick it.
  • In bitter or blustery cold weather, cover the lips with a scarf or a ski mask.
  • Stay well hydrated by drinking lots of fluid.
  • Use a humidifier at home and, if possible, at work during the winter months.

The word "chapped" meaning "fissured or cracked" dates to the 14th century. "Chapped" can also apply to the parched ground in summer and hands in winter.



MedTerms (TM) is the Medical Dictionary of MedicineNet.com.
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